cover image The Labrador Pact

The Labrador Pact

Matt Haig, . . Viking, $23.95 (341pp) ISBN 978-0-670-01852-9

In the second novel by British author Haig (The Dead Fathers Club ), morality is left to the dogs. Prince, the Labrador narrator, lives by the creed, “Duty over all.” At the beginning of the novel, it seems that Prince has failed all of humanity and disgraced Labs for all time, and, as he is about to be put down, he tells his own tragic story. Although he clings to the teachings of his mentor, Henry, a former police dog, Prince can't keep his married master Adam's eye from roving toward Emily, the new gal in town who just happens to be married to old schoolmate Simon. Further puzzling Prince are the aromas of fear and desire that Adam's wife, Katie, exudes whenever Simon comes around. And he certainly can't seem to sniff out a fix for the teenage woes encountered by Adam and Katie's two kids. With dogged determination, he sacrifices his own pleasure to protect and serve the family that can neither understand his entreaties nor appreciate his level of commitment. Although a little heavy-handed and arguably gimmicky, readers can't help feeling bad for Prince, a good dog just trying to do the right thing. (Mar.)